ArsTechnica had an article today showing some early iPhone prototypes that illustrate a point that is important for first time entrepreneurs to remember. Your early attempts at designing your product should focus on function, not form. I’ve included one of the photos here to show how Apple approached this with the first iPhone. If you want to check out the rest of the photos, head to the link above.
In this photo, Apple was still developing the features of the product. The design elements that would make the product look polished were quite a ways off. It would be counterproductive to work on that polish first because a lot of the design that was worked on might become unnecessary or irrelevant once certain features were finalized. Waiting until features are closer to completion ensures that less time is wasted on unneeded design work.
Entrepreneurs should definitely take this to heart. Especially, since both time and money are dear commodities for early stage startups. Focus first on developing a product with all the necessary features. Then test it with users, if possible. When you’re reasonably sure of the product, get the design put together in the way that will best present the features and develop that final polish. That way you won’t waste money and designer time constantly reworking your product. When you have a startup, efficiency is key.